Sports memory No. 4: Meeting the ‘Killer’ face to face

Jim “Killer” Killingsworth is a good old country boy from McIntosh County.

March 15, 1983, Mabee Center, Tulsa, Okla.: The TCU men’s basketball team had just beaten Tulsa 64-62 in the first round of the NIT. I’d interviewed players and I was headed for the media room when I run into TCU coach Jim “Killer” Killingsworth and Tulsa World sports editor Bill Connors talking in the corridor. To me, these men are bigger than life, legendary. Before I can tip-toe around them, Mr. Connors introduces me to Coach Killingsworth, whose is known to be a tough customer. “Jim,” Mr. Connors said, “this young man is from Hanna.” I’m stunned. Mr. Connors knows this because he’s from Canadian, also in McIntosh County. Coach Killingsworth, squints at me, shakes my hand and tells me that he was born in Checotah and his family’s old homestead is at the bottom of Lake Eufaula. Whoa. He also tells me that he’s a Creek Indian (I’m one-eighth Creek). And he asks whether I’m aware that Ken Hayes, a former Tulsa coach, once coached at Stidham, also in McIntosh County. I nodded and we talked about McIntosh County and the lake. It was close to deadline, and I had to cut it short. I shook his hand again and turned toward the media room. “Son,” he said. “Don’t you want to ask about the game?” Man, I was so awestruck at talking to the Killer, I forgot why I was there.


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